5 Places Every Black Woman Should Visit in Her Lifetime
Plus: Can’t get your hands on a passport soon enough? 5 tropical island destinations you can enjoy without one.
Before you travel, check for travel restrictions for each destination and requirements for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 viral test.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In Rio, the rhythm is gonna get you, and so is the melting pot culture with deep roots in the African slave trade. Social media influencer Natasha Naila (@theweavewhisperer) partied in Rio with a group of girlfriends back in 2016 and you can, too. So get ready to flirt with the boys from Ipanema, sip caipirinhas, flaunt your beach bod curves on the white sands of Copacabana beach, dance to samba music in the streets and shop for handmade folk art, jewelry and leather goods. For an off-the-beaten-path excursion, take a taxi to the hillside Santa Teresa neighborhood, where you will find cable cars, cobblestoned streets, restaurants, galleries and artist Jorge Selarón’s iconic mosaic-covered steps (seen in the Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg video for “Beautiful” and found between Santa Teresa and Lapa). Another awe-inspiring highlight — scale Mount Corcovado by van or train to get panoramic views and to stand at the feet of the towering Christ the Redeemer statue with its arms outstretched over Guanabara Bay and the city.
From Josephine Baker to James Baldwin, Black expats have been able to reinvent themselves in the enchanting “City of Light.” Journalist Audrey Edwards literally escaped from New York and relocated to Paris during the Trump administration and wrote a book about it, American Runaway: Black and Free in Paris in the Trump Years. On your short- or long-term visit, you can enjoy decadent food and wine and take in awe-inspiring attractions like the Eiffel Tower; stroll along the Champs-Élysées to see the picturesque Arc de Triomphe; and visit the Louvre to view world-famous works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” To support Black-owned businesses in Paris, shop for trendy African-inspired garb at Maison Château Rouge, get a taste of home at Gumbo Yaya Chicken and Waffles and take a wine tour with Tanisha Townsend of Girl Meets Glass.
Yes, Iceland, one of the best places in the world to see the wondrous northern lights (aurora borealis) and where unparalleled natural beauty and geothermal waters await. Fashion and travel blogger Ehmonie Hainey (@whatshaute) took a birthday trip to Reykjavik, where she basked in the endless Icelandic summer sunlight and bathed in the milky blue, warm and mineral-rich sea waters of the Blue Lagoon spa, 20 minutes from Keflavík Airport and 50 minutes from Reykjavik. In town, peruse the vintage and secondhand boutiques, eateries and bars on Laugavegur, the main shopping drag and one of the oldest streets in Iceland’s capital city.
You know it’s a bucket-list destination if Oprah has a home here. On your trip, meditate and take an early morning walk on Kaanapali beach, pass the poi at a luau, go whale watching and take an early morning drive to see the sunrise from the summit of Haleakalā National Park (make reservations ahead of time), the site of a dormant volcano. Native Hawaiians are people of color with a reverence for nature and their heritage, and during a trip to Maui in the early 2000s, I found a kinship with a Hawaiian woman who advised me to take a bite of fresh aloe vera pulp in order to ease a chronic health issue. (I’m not sure if it helped, but it was a taste and conversation I’ll never forget.) From Maui, you can hop a flight to the other major Hawaiian islands, including Lanai, where cat lovers flock to the Lanai Cat Sanctuary.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
International travel blogger Oneika Raymond (@oneikatraveller) is a fan of this exotic city, which offers a cosmopolitan, less zealous introduction to the Middle East. While Dubai has long been an attraction for its designer shops, luxury hotels and vibrant nightlife, there’s a growing expat community of African American women in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the U.A.E. A few years ago, a “glitch fare” on Etihad Airways made Abu Dhabi an affordable hot spot for Black travelers. Although flights are no longer dirt cheap, it’s still worth the trip for majestic sites like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. As a bonus incentive, the U.A.E. is less than a four-hour flight from other bucket list destinations like Nepal, the Maldives and the Seychelles.
No passport appointment? Can't get an expedited passport? No problem! These great island destinations in the Caribbean and South Pacific don’t require one since they are U.S. territories.
U.S. Virgin Islands (book for after Caribbean hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30)
Puerto Rico (same as above)
Northern Mariana Islands